Thursday, February 12, 2015

Darwin in images (Darwin Day 2015).

Feb. 12 is the anniversary of Charles Darwin's birthday, a celebration of a man who nearly single-handedly (not to ignore Alfred Russel Wallace and others) laid the foundations for modern ecology and evolution. He championed the idea that evolution was descent with modification, where natural selection was the main means of modification. Darwin's work furthered achievements in science, medicine, and philosophy, perhaps in part because he helped disentangle science, society and religion. One outcome of being such a prominent figure is the frequency with which Darwin ends up in images, cartoons and illustrations, beginning in his own lifetime. So here is a short tour of Darwin and his big idea via cartoons and illustrations. 

A famous Vanity Fair caricature from 1971.

The oft-repeated mantra that evolution means that man evolved directly from a monkey or beast was an early (and still popular) theme. Darwin often took the role of the monkey.
John Tenniel for Fun magazine (1872)
From 1882, Punch’s Almanack, Linley Sambourne


Even in his day, some cartoons supported rather than poked fun. See the speech on the wall, a plea avoid ignorance of Science. (Link)
"Puck Presents Archdeacon Farrar’s New Year’s Hint — A Needed Course of Instruction for Our Religious Instructors"(1890).

The "evolution of man" meme has a long history - what was originally satire is primarily now a visual joke. (Link)
Harper's Bazaar 1871
Modern concerns.

Darwin and evolution has been a repeated image in US politics, covering evolution and education, religious tension, science, and social darwinis, among other themes. (Link)
1925 SF Examiner
More recent, by Karl Wimer
Religion and Darwin have been unavoidable companions.
From pro-religion angles: 
1922 Moody's bible institute
And anti-religious:

Darwin pops up on motivational images and posters:

And evolution jokes remain eternally popular:
The Farside providing one of the better ones :)
source unknown

And finally, Darwin's own images have been incredibly influential. He was a talented naturalist and scientist and left many lovely illustrations. His sketches in his books, particularly the "tree of life" image has become an emblem for many scientists - of evolution and the origin of species, of immense intellectual accomplishment, of the birth of modern ecology and evolution.
The famous "I think" image - the tree of life.

To learn more about Darwin in images, this is a great resource.


Dr. Fox said...

The famous quote on that motivational poster isn't from Darwin, even though everyone attributes it to him:

Interestingly, the correct attribution was just recently chased down.

Caroline Tucker said...

Thanks! The meme has been wandering around the internet for a while, it always did seem like an odd quote for Darwin.